DO­MAIN DONS

Tra­di­tion­ally strong re­cruiters are re­cal­i­brat­ing their tal­ent needs and hir­ing pa­ram­e­ters. Other than from B-schools, some are lat­er­ally hir­ing spe­cial­ists as well.

Business Today - - INDIA'S BEST B-SCHOOL - By E. Ku­mar Sharma / Pho­to­graph by Ra­chit Goswami

THIS IS AN AGE OF spe­cial­ists, im­pa­tience and one of dis­ap­pear­ing in­for­ma­tion ar­bi­trage. A con­sul­tant’s job is get­ting more com­plex, and more lu­cra­tive. This has a di­rect bear­ing on the kind of tal­ent be­ing hired. As a re­sult, lead­ing con­sul­tan­cies have ex­panded their catch­ment area for hir­ing to go be­yond just busi­ness schools. “Clients are get­ting more so­phis­ti­cated and want to see more ex­per­tise and im­ple­men­ta­tion ca­pa­bil­i­ties,” says Gau­tam Kumra, Se­nior Part­ner and Manag­ing Di­rec­tor, McKin­sey In­dia. That’s one rea­son why, he says, “over the past two to three years, we have been hir­ing (spe­cial­ists like) data sci­en­tists and data statis­ti­cians ag­gres­sively.”

When clients ask for spe­cific ad­vice or ex­per­tise, con­sul­tan­cies have to be in a po­si­tion to ful­fil that de­mand. “One of our pharma clients wanted to en­gage with our ex­perts on in­dus­try trends, strate­gic op­tions and what it takes to man­age change. This re­quired the best of our ex­perts from strat­egy, pharma do­main, and im­ple­men­ta­tion ca­pa­bil­i­ties,” says Kumra. There are sev­eral other such ex­am­ples. For ex­am­ple, “an In­dian IT ser­vices com­pany ex­pected us to bring the best do­main ex­perts from each ver­ti­cal, who could then iden­tify their pain points and so­lu­tions (how tech­nol­ogy could ad­dress these). When we were in­volved in a cost­ef­fi­ciency project for an au­to­mo­tive com­pany, we were ex­pected to bring in peo­ple with rel­e­vant ex­per­tise in pro­cure­ment, de­sign.”

So, how has the change in client de­mands trans­lated into the way the firm hires from busi­ness schools? “About five years ago, our hir­ing was al­most en­tirely from B-school cam­puses. To­day, that is only 60-70 per cent. The rest is ex­pe­ri­enced hir­ing; many more spe­cial­ists are hired lat­er­ally,” says Kumra.

The con­sul­tancy has also diver­si­fied the way it hires; it’s called ‘ The nine path­ways to be­com­ing a part­ner at McKin­sey’ (See ‘Be­yond B-schools’). Kumra, with the help of Toshan Tamhane, Se­nior Part­ner, and who also leads re­cruit­ing at McKin­sey in In­dia, ex­plain: “Ear­lier, there used to be only one path to be­com­ing a ‘part­ner’ at McKin­sey – B-school cam­pus. Now, there are al­most nine dif­fer­ent paths.”

This is in tune with how the con­sul­tancy is chang­ing glob­ally. One in every four part­ners at McKin­sey glob­ally is di­rectly hired

from out­side and lat­eral hir­ing has in­creased from al­most noth­ing to about one-third or more of the to­tal hir­ing in the past four to five years, says Kumra. They have been hir­ing 150-200 peo­ple over the past twothree years in In­dia, and plan to in­crease this.

While spe­cialised skills are much in de­mand, ba­sic tal­ent is still needed as ser­vic­ing clients needs skill sets such as gen­eral prob­lem solv­ing and man­age­ment think­ing. A com­bi­na­tion is needed. “I don’t think the skill sets we look for in busi­ness schools has fun­da­men­tally changed — life man­age­ment, team man­age­ment, per­sonal im­pact and en­trepreneur­ship. One needs to go to cam­puses for these,” says Kumra.

Un­der­lin­ing the need for “tech­nol­ogy-ori­en­ta­tion” in busi­ness man­agers, T.K. Sri­rang, Head of Hu­man Re­sources at ICICI Bank, which has also tra­di­tion­ally been re­cruit­ing from B-school cam­puses, says the bank hires a mix of tal­ent. “We do a mix of hir­ing from the top busi­ness schools and also from the top en­gi­neer­ing schools. Es­pe­cially over the past four to five years... we have started vis­it­ing top en­gi­neer­ing schools like the top IITs and BITS Pi­lani.” In all, the bank hires about

300 peo­ple from lead­ing busi­ness schools and en­gi­neer­ing col­leges

(35-40 stu­dents). This, he says, “is largely be­cause we need to em­bed the re­quired skills. At busi­ness schools, we look clearly for two or three things. One is that the per­son be strong on an­a­lyt­i­cal skills. This is im­por­tant be­cause to­day, the abil­ity

"WE HAVE STRENGTH­ENED OUR COM­PE­TENCY- BASED AS­SESS­MENT FOR CAM­PUS HIRES TO EN­SURE SE­LEC­TION OF RIGHT TAL­ENT FOR THE RIGHT ROLE" R. Srid­har Head, Cor­po­rate Hu­man Re­sources, ITC

to sieve through a lot of in­for­ma­tion means hav­ing a strong an­a­lyt­i­cal ori­en­ta­tion. Two, some­one who is re­ally able to un­der­stand cus­tomers’ be­hav­iour. Be­havioural eco­nom­ics is an evolv­ing space.”

How does the bank eval­u­ate who has the right fit? Sri­rang says: “We use mul­ti­ple meth­ods to val­i­date our hy­poth­e­sis on the ori­en­ta­tion or abil­i­ties of an in­di­vid­ual. One is the psy­cho­me­t­ric pro­filer OPQ (oc­cu­pa­tional per­son­al­ity ques­tion­naire) to mea­sure men­tal ca­pa­bil­i­ties and be­hav­iour. We have been us­ing this for over a decade now. It is not a se­lec­tion test but an ad­di­tional in­put avail­able to the in­ter­view­ing team. How we in­ter­pret the re­port has changed.”

Tech­ni­cal skills are an im­por­tant pa­ram­e­ter now. “It is a thresh­old re­quire­ment for a per­son to suc­ceed in an in­sti­tu­tion like ours. It is not about cod­ing but about un­der­stand­ing tech­nol­ogy and know­ing what is hap­pen­ing in this space,” says Sri­rang.

To B-schools, But Dif­fer­ently

Some, such as FMCG ma­jor ITC, con­tinue to re­tain their strong em­pha­sis on re­cruit­ment from B-school cam­puses. “We have strength­ened our com­pe­ten­cy­based as­sess­ments for cam­pus hires to en­sure se­lec­tion of the ‘right tal­ent’ for the ‘right role’,” says R. Srid­har, Head of Cor­po­rate Hu­man Re­sources, ITC. He says the fo­cus is to “select ‘Proneurs’ - en­trepreneurial pro­fes­sion­als who will drive in­no­va­tion, and de­liver re­sults in line with our goal to achieve a turnover of ` 1 lakh crore in new FMCG busi­nesses by 2030. Every year, we on-board around over 100 cam­pus hires from the top B-schools in In­dia and they are groomed for busi­ness lead­er­ship po­si­tions in the com­pany.”

Top re­cruiters are also deep­en­ing the en­gage­ment with B-school cam­puses. McKin­sey, for in­stance, has pro­grammes such as sum­mer as­so­ciate, case com­pe­ti­tion, buddy pro­gramme, and train­ing on case stud­ies. It also sees pre-place­ment of­fers play­ing a big­ger part in the hir­ing process. For seven years now, ITC has had a cam­pus en­gage­ment ini­tia­tive called ‘In­ter­robang?!’. The event hosts talks by ITC’s busi­ness lead­ers, and top cam­pus teams bat­tle it out in a case chal­lenge. The event is also used to spot tal­ent early, many of who are of­fered pre-place­ment in­ter­views at ITC.

"IT ( TECH­NI­CAL SKILLS) IS NOT ABOUT COD­ING BUT ABOUT UN­DER­STAND­ING TECH­NOL­OGY AND KNOW­ING WHAT IS HAP­PEN­ING IN THIS SPACE" T. K. Sri­rang Head of Hu­man Re­sources, ICICI Bank

PHO­TO­GRAPH BY RA­CHIT GOSWAMI

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